Pak should take control of their soil: Munter

Islamabad: The US has said Pakistan`s civil and military leadership should have "its writ on its soil", making it clear that Islamabad needs to take more steps to tackle terrorism. "Pakistan should not become the problem…it should help resolve the problem," US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said.

The US wants to work with Pakistan to tackle militant elements that are sheltering in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, he said. Munter, who is set to step down in the near future, made it clear that Pakistan will have to do more to counter terrorism if it wants US financial assistance to resume. He told BBC Urdu that Pakistan and the US will have to work together to find ways to effectively tackle a common enemy.

Though the envoy did not name any particular militant group, his remarks were an apparent reference to the Haqqani network which uses its bases in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region to launch attacks on US and foreign forces in Afghanistan. Asked about the threat Pakistan was facing from local Taliban fighters, Munter said those challenging the writ of the state are terrorists.

"The civil and military leadership of Pakistan should take control of Pakistani soil and defeat such terrorists. And we want to help them," he said. "We want Pakistan to be a sovereign state by sovereign I mean the state should have its writ on its soil," he added. "I think the issue of sovereignty is those people in your country who are attacking you from the inside and attacking your neighbour".

Munter noted that even Pakistan`s Parliament had said in a resolution that the country`s soil will not be allowed to be used for terrorism. He avoided a direct response to a question about US drone strikes in the tribal belt, which Pakistan has described as a violation of its sovereignty and counter-productive. The envoy`s remarks came in the wake of Islamabad`s decision to end a seven-month blockade of supply routes to Afghanistan that was imposed after NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November.

Pakistan reopened the supply lines after the US apologised for the attack. Munter said a decision on reopening the routes by delayed by Pakistan`s internal politics and the pain caused by the death of the soldiers. "It was a problem for Pakistan. It (the decision to block the NATO supply routes) had alienated 50 allies in the war against terrorism ? a war that Pakistan`s military is also fighting," he said. "Now the reopening of the supply routes will help us fight this war collectively," he said. He said the two countries had acknowledged that they will have to work together.

In response to a question about the possibility of an anti-US government coming to power in the next general election, Munter said both Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had assured him that their parties "support" the US. "I`ve met both Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif and they have assured me that their parties fully support the United States," he said. The two opposition parties have been critical of the US and their leaders have criticised US policies for Pakistan and Afghanistan.